With the difficult housing market and rising number of foreclosures leaving more and more homes standing vacant, some companies are seeking meticulous residents to live in the houses and keep them from going to rack and ruin.
This unique solution to a growing problem allows people like 49-year-old Rose Duran to live in a dream house for little rent, but with the condition she can be asked to move out at any time.
Instead of allowing foreclosed homes to remain uninhabited and deteriorate, companies like Homes in Transition search for caretakers to move into vacant homes for a monthly fee of $400.
"Those houses are subject to vandalism. Obviously, when there is nobody living in them, the whole neighborhood could lose value," said Christine Lohkamp of Homes in Transition, which is based in Albuquerque, N.M.
The company said since the homes in its program are on the market, it doesn't offer a lease term and lessees must agree to relocate in the event of a sale, with as little as five days' notice, according to the Homes in Transition Web site.
The residents also are responsible for the maintenance of the home, including utilities and applicable association fees. They are required to allow access to the residence for the purpose of showing the home when it's for sale.
"It's not for everyone and nothing in life is for free and everything worthwhile in life you have to work for it," Duran said. "I saw a commercial and it said, 'Homes in Transition,' and the first thing that came into my mind was the word transition. It sounds like my life -- you know, my life has been in transition for the last three years."
A divorce, combined with the responsibility of caring for her elderly parents, pushed Duran to the financial limit. But now, she's able to live in a pristine 2,000-square-foot house as a home tender.
Homes in Transition claims not only do these homes sell for 20 percent more, but they also sell 30 percent faster.
And Duran said she believes home tending could be a new, alternative way to deal with the housing crunch.
"I think that, until the economy picks up and the housing market starts to pick up, it's a great solution all the way around. It's a win-win situation for everyone," Duran said.